Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wednesday Comics: A Marvel-ous Treasury of Oz

You may be familiar with the Eric Shanower scripted, Skottie Young illustrated Oz adaptations published under the Marvel Illustrated line. If not, you can still get them in the trade--even in an omnibus. These are not Marvel's first forays into Oz. For that, we have to look back to 1975, and Marvel's first collaboration with DC.

By the 70s, the MGM film had become a yearly television event. Mego launched a toyline based on it in 1975. Marvel and DC are (coincidentally) both planning comics adaptations. When this is discovered, Infantino and Lee agree they should jointly publish the venture. The book as eventually published winds up with the title MGM's Marvelous Wizard of Oz and a Marvel creative team: Roy Thomas for script, John Buscema on pencils, and inks by Tony DeZuniga's Filipino crew, "the Tribe." It was published in the larger "treasury" format.

Apparently, a story pre-branded with "Marvelous" in the title was just too much for the House of Ideas to pass up--particularly when said book was in the public domain so no licenses need be paid--so 1975 saw a treasury-sized adaptation of the second Oz book, the Marvelous Land of Oz. The full title (according the indicia) is Marvel Treasury of Oz featuring The Marvelous Land of Oz. Thomas again scripts, but this time art is by Alfredo Alcala.

Marvel apparently planned at least third go in 1976. A house ad proclaims that Ozma of Oz is coming with the same creative team. Apparently, quite a bit of art was done, and Thomas was even working on the script of the fourth book, when Marvel discovers that Ozma isn't in public domain (and it wouldn't be until 1983). The John Buscema cover is still around, too:

Marvel based their character designs on the MGM film throughout the series, giving a sort of glimpse into what it might have looked like if the movie had become the sort of franchise that's common today. Of course, new characters had to be introduced, which tend to look like a Marvelized version of John R Neill's art work in the original books.


Jim Shelley said...

Wow! Good job on finding that Ozma of Oz cover. While I favor Shanower's own at for this series, that cover has me wishing Marvel had finished more OZ books during the Bronze Age.

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